Spiritual Dryness Revisited

In 2013, I wrote a 4th Day Letter about spiritual dryness. It is something that at one time or another most Christians experience. After reflecting upon the isolation caused by the pandemic, the inability to attend church, and after recent discussions with several Christians currently going through a time of spiritual dryness, I felt called to revisit this topic. I invite you to read more….

This past week I heard about Jonathan Steingard, a member of the Christian rock band Hawk Nelson who announced on Instagram that he no longer believes in God.  Here is his quote:

“After growing up in a Christian home, being a pastor’s kid, playing and singing in a Christian band, and having the word ‘Christian’ in front of most of the things in my life – I am now finding that I no longer believe in God,” he wrote in his statement. “The last few words of that sentence were hard to write. I still find myself wanting to soften that statement by wording it differently or less specifically – but it wouldn’t be as true.”

Will this young singer’s current feeling towards God remain or is he wandering in a spiritual desert? I don’t know. We all seem to experience periods where we feel quite distant from God. I have. Have you?  Sometimes spiritual dryness lasts for days, other times it lingers for month, and for some, it lasts years.

The term “dark night of the soul” is a term often used to describe a spiritual crisis in the journey toward union with God. Many very strong Christians, including Mother Teresa, have endured these dry spells of faith. This pandemic and these trying times are causing many Christians to encounter a dark night of the soul.

My protracted spiritual dry spell in 2013 was broken in a most unusual way. One night I looked up from my back porch and saw one of the clearest skies I have ever seen. The moon and every star illuminated the sky. One night later, to my disappointment, the sky was blackened by clouds. These stunningly different skies offered me a vital insight for my spiritual journey.

I realized that the same stars, moon, and planets were just as brilliant in the sky; but they were obscured by the clouds. It is the same way with God. Some days He seems so close and some days we can’t seem to find Him at all. The reality is, God is constant. God never moves. He never changes. Spiritual clouds sometimes block our view.

For reasons we might not understand, God paradoxically draws us into the desert to experience its dryness ultimately to draw us closer to Him.  Sometimes we need the wilderness to make us grow. Matthew 3:17 states: “And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” The very next line, Matthew 4:1, states, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”  Why does this happen? Only God knows.

Do you remember the movie “An American Tale”? In this animated adventure film Fievel Mousekewitz and his family, a family of mice, immigrate from Russia to the United States for freedom. However, Fievel gets lost and must find a way to reunite with his family. Fievel is washed overboard from the ship in a storm and his parents presume he has drowned; however, unknown to them, Fievel floats to America in a bottle. Tanya, Fievel’s sister, tells her gloomy parents she has a feeling that Fievel is still alive, but her parents insist that the feeling will eventually go away. At this point in the film, with Fievel and his sister miles apart and both looking up at the same bright moon in the night sky, they sing alternating verses of the song “Somewhere Out There”. Click to listen:

Fievel Sings

Somewhere out there,

Beneath the pale moonlight,

Someone’s thinking of me and loving me tonight.

Tanya Sings

Somewhere out there,

Someone’s saying a prayer,

That we’ll find one another in that big somewhere out there.

Permit me to apply those lyrics to the parable of the Prodigal Son. Can you picture the son a long way from home looking up at the moon while at the same time the father is looking at the same moon? They might sing this song this way:

The Son Sings

Somewhere out there,

Beneath the pale moonlight,

My Father is thinking of me and loving me tonight.

While the Father sings

Somewhere out there,

My son is saying a prayer,

that we’ll find one another in that big somewhere out there.

Great theologians have long speculated as to why we have these periods of dryness. I once read a sermon that said: “The final lesson that God teaches us when our prayer runs dry is that we must gradually learn to participate in the Cross of Christ. In times of dryness, we experience the thirst of Jesus on the Cross. If the Cross was Jesus’ way to the Father, then surely, we, the disciples of Jesus, cannot expect to travel the scenic route free of all pain and hardship. When we experience darkness in prayer or in the marketplace, we are being invited to identify with Jesus in his suffering and in his experience of feeling abandoned by the Father. Also, in the desert we are being invited and challenged to trust that our God will not abandon us but will come to rescue us and redeem us (see Exodus 16).”

We have all heard the quote: “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” During these periods when we seem removed from God, remember that although the clouds blocked my view, the moon and stars were still there. Likewise, God is always there even if we cannot see Him or hear His voice.  We must never lose hope, He is always longing for us to find our way back to Him in prayer. If you are experiencing a dry spell, I hope the Holy Spirit touched your heart through these words today.

Heavenly Father help me to embrace the times when you seem distant. It is during these times that you may truly be teaching me. I know you never leave me. Help me to grow in my love for you even during the dryness. Amen.

As always, I love to read your comments below as well as hear from you personally by clicking here.

Brian Pusateri
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11 Comments

  1. Avatar Jim Meersman on June 2, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    Brian: This is one of your very best letters. You are so talented! This is especially powerful with all we have been and are going through. Thank you for your wonderful way of communicating. Warn Regards o Mary and you. Jim Meermsan

    • Brian Pusateri Brian Pusateri on June 2, 2020 at 4:37 pm

      Jim

      Thank you for your very kind words. I am glad the message touched your heart.

      Brian

    • Avatar Jennifer Hennelly on June 3, 2020 at 8:59 am

      Such a thoughtful and timely article….I particularly loved the “Russian” mouse inclusion…
      I’m surprised I have never seen that
      movie….but I think I will leave it with your telling of the “tale”
      thank you !
      J.H *

  2. Avatar Jim Nolan on June 2, 2020 at 10:46 am

    Thank you Brian, I love the analogy to the sky and the clouds. I too experience closeness to God sometimes but distance at others and it does seem that hard times when I realize I am not in control help to push away the clouds- must be the wind that John described- the Holy Spirit.

    • Brian Pusateri Brian Pusateri on June 2, 2020 at 4:38 pm

      Jim

      Thanks for your post! I hope all is well.

      Brian

  3. Avatar Rebecca Frier on June 2, 2020 at 8:49 am

    Thank you Brian…I truly needed this…God bless you and your family!

    • Brian Pusateri Brian Pusateri on June 2, 2020 at 8:55 am

      Rebecca

      You are most welcome. May God peace be with you!

      Brian

  4. Avatar Carolyn Lewis on June 2, 2020 at 8:49 am

    Hello, Brian. I am a friend of your brother, Fred Whitt. Fred passes these along to his FB friends. Today’s message on the “dry” spiritual times in our lives spoke to me on different levels. We are grieving the loss of our grandson. This helped me today. God bless you. It’s really neat to see you and Fred both serving God. I love it that you found each other. God is good.

    • Brian Pusateri Brian Pusateri on June 2, 2020 at 8:53 am

      Carolyn

      It is by God’s grace that Fred and I found each other. I was delighted to discover that he shared my strong love for our Lord. I am glad he shares these with you. I am saddened to hear of your grandson’s death. I hope that others will see your post here and all of us can offer up prayers for your family. May the peace of God that surpasses all understanding be with you now and always.

      Brian

  5. Avatar Michael on June 2, 2020 at 12:23 am

    Thank you for your poignant words tonight, brother. I needed them. God bless you and your ministry.

    • Brian Pusateri Brian Pusateri on June 2, 2020 at 3:57 am

      Michael

      Praise to the Holy Spirit who put the message in my heart. Thanks for posting. May God’s blessings be with you.

      Brian

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